Mormon church severs some of its ties to the Boy Scouts

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Effie Delimarkos, a spokeswoman for Boy Scouts of America, said that 130,000 boys ages 14 to 18 participate in Varsity and Venturing through Mormon Church troops, making up more than 5 percent of the Boy Scouts' 2.3 million youth members.

Still, the move marks a significant shift for a church that has always been interwoven with the youth institution - so interwoven that The Associated Press reports the decision could mean that between 130,000 and 180,000 teenagers will leave the organization.

The loss is only a fraction of the 2.3 million youths in the Boy Scouts of America, but the organization has been grappling with declining membership for years and has enjoyed an unusually close bond with the Mormon church for more than a century due to their shared values. The group has been grappling with declining membership in recent years and enjoyed a close bond with the Mormons for more than a century. Officials said the church's decision to move away from the teen Scout programs came before it learned of that possibility. The Mormon church is the largest sponsor of Boy Scouts troops in the United States.

Church officials said in a Q-and-A posted on the church's newsroom website that the decision to end the scouting programs was not due to the BSA's opening up to gay and transgender scouts and leaders.

Instead, the church said it wanted a new, simplified program more closely tailored to Mormon teenagers.

The Boy Scouts put the number at 330,000.

The change only affects LDS church congregations - called wards - in the United States and Canada, as it only offers the Varsity and Venturing scout programs in those two counties.

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"We express honest appreciation and gratitude to all adult leaders who have supported young men in these programs and are grateful for our long-standing and continuing partnership with the Boy Scouts of America and Scouts Canada", the letter added.

Although the LDS church previously expressed concerns about the Boy Scouts' changing openness to gay and transgender Scouts and leaders, church leaders claimed that didn't factor into Thursday's announcement.

"As part of the Church's ongoing effort to evaluate and improve its service to families and young people worldwide, the Church will no longer charter Varsity or Venturing units with the Boy Scouts of America and Scouts Canada effective January 1, 2018", the church's office of the First Presidency declared in a letter Thursday.

The Boy Scout movement has been entrenched in Mormon culture for as long as anyone can remember.

An 11-year-old boy looks over a Boy Scout-themed Norman Rockwell exhibition at the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City.

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A Boy Scout training complex in West Virginia is named after Mormon church President Thomas S. Monson, a longtime member of the Boy Scouts' executive board and a major supporter.

Becoming an Eagle Scout is an especially proud badge of honor within Mormon culture. Social media was buzzing with jokes Thursday about Mormon women adjusting their hopes of finding a husband who was an Eagle Scout.

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